Post #8 Recovering Truth
Sunday, January, 2015
Leaving Jen’s with my arms full of her gifts and my heart full of love, promise and wonder, I drove home pondering what would be become of me after all of this.
How could I possibly tell this story out loud?
How would I know that I was truly healed? That I was actually doing what I was meant to do?
How would I know it was all happening? That my prayers had been received?
My first clue was the song on the radio when I got in the car. I’ve always had an intimate connection with song lyrics and music. It’s gotten me through the hardest break-ups, the saddest moments as well as giving me great joy and celebration. It triggers all my best memories and sometimes my heartache. Music is like a best friend to me. I fee like the Universe has a playlist just for me. Its my church, my religion, my thrill and my peace.
First up on soul radio was THIS SONG. It makes me smile BIG.
The second song up hits me a little sideways though, its a trigger song for the guy. It played more than one night while he was sleeping and I was just watching him breathe. The lyrics might have been a kind of clue to what was coming I guess. Whenever I hear that song my heart goes right back to that moment, breathing with him, while he slept. I wasn’t inviting him to this soul session today so I turned off the radio and drove home in silence. I just wanted to marinate in what had transpired over the last three days, not dive back into the sink hole of sorrow and bewilderment over him.
When I got home I crawled right into my bed and called my closest friend from college and told her the whole story out loud. Two hours later she uttered only this. “You are very brave.”
“What have I got to lose?” I asked her. “There’s something about me that needs change in order to have the life my heart desires, the feelings I want to feel, to be the kind of person I want to be and to get rid of that thing that still haunts me, terrorizes me. I need help. I need guidance. God gave me Jen.”
“How do you feel?” She asked with an emphasis on do.
“I feel calm. Tired. Like something really big has happened, shifted, but I can’t articulate it. I want to rest, take a bath. Just see what happens from here.” I hang up and climb in my tub and soak.
In the days to follow I began to notice that I am being given gifts. I had sent up a request in the fire ceremony to bring forth my true femininity, the true goddess like spirit of me. In the feminine way, we are receptive. We give but we also receive.
I began to notice that people were giving me something, every single day.
First the apple cake and all the little altar things from Jen.
When I got home that night, a friend of mine dropped off dinner. A homemade chicken pot pie.
My massage therapist gave me a Ganesha from his trip to India. The Ganesha is the remover of obstacles.
His four year old son wrote me a book.
The next day, a dear friend gave me a glass heart necklace she’d brought me from Italy. Then I received meditation CD’s.
I received homemade breakfast bars, the next day, fresh flowers, then another offering of comfort food for dinner.
I received another necklace with my mom’s favorite song inscribed on it, then a cake, then a sign that said, “In the end its not the years in your life that count, it’s the life in your years.”
And another dinner.
It happened everyday for two weeks. I was given a gift for no reason. I was being shown what it was like to receive without expectation of anything in return. It felt like confirmation. It felt like magic. I was so grateful and I felt blessed by every gift.
I was set to meet Jen in three weeks. I spent the time creating my own prayer altar. I added candles for my parents, my children, myself, my friends and family, God, and one for my future partner. I set out my rosary beads, the jade buddha that was my grandmothers, an angel, a sign from my sister, a mirror to see myself, the story scrolls from my weekend with Jen.
I kept up my morning rituals, listening to the peace mantra, the Snatam song, writing and committing myself daily to the devotion I had written. Things were relatively calm in my house. The “dark thing” seemed to be under control.
“There is a darling little children’s chapel in the National Cathedral. Can you meet me there?”She says on the phone.
I find her tucked into the corner of the embroidered window seat. Stained glass framing her body. She’s dressed all in black. She looks comfortable. She looks like just appeared there. She has a little pouch of a purse slung across her body. She looks mystical.
“Hi” she sings. Her ‘Hi” is two syllables and sounds like music.
I sit across from her, feeling stiff, odd, out of place. Big. Weird. I am in church, one of the biggest churchiest churches. I don’t even really go to church much, I haven’t found my church home yet but I love church buildings, church music, church rituals. Church always makes me cry, like my soul is so relieved to be there in the company of angels, saints, God.
I don’t know what to say so I sit quietly for a moment and just look around.
Tears sting the back of my eyes as when I finally ask her. “What is happening? “Who are you? Where did you come from?”
For the past few weeks I’ve felt this lightness, this calm, a shift in my perception of things.
“Awww” She reaches out to hold my hand. “It’s ok, you’re ok.” I just sit there and let the tears fall.
“You had to integrate all that happened while you were at my house. You are coming all the way into your power, fire power, through your body. It’s just at the surface right now. It’s massive fertility. You’re primed. You have to root all the way down into the correct power source to seed the future. In Devotion you are in the perfect spiritual state. Now you need knowledge of how to be. This will emerge for you through partnership. A new way, by embodying the feminine. Receptivity,” she says. “You need more sacred space. It’s a gentle evolution.”
I have no idea what exactly all that means, but I know she’s not talking nonsense. I trust her in a way that feels deep, true. I am trusting her with my heart and my life at the moment.
I know she’s here to help me get where I need to be. I’ve asked for someone like her. A guide. A deeply spiritual guide to show me the way, to know what its like to completely surrender, to live from my heart completely.
She invites me to spend a year with her. “An apprenticeship,” she says “collecting really deep experiences. Off the grid and unique. A life changing story, deeply devoted and focused.”
“I feed the revolutionary people.” She says and I believe her.
“Let’s say a prayer together” she says as she motions me to the tiny kneeling bench meant for kids.
“Did you see all the animals on the chairs?” I nod my head yes. Each child size chair has a cushion embroidered with an animal from Noah’s Ark. I am reminded that we are made to move through this earth two by two, in pairs, to keep us going, supported, growing, connected, together. We kneel. Fold our hands and she says a prayer to Mother Mary in gratitude for bringing us together. She calls for support, faith, guidance. We rise. We hug. “It’s good Shell” says and I smile.
We walk to the entrance. She turns and asks, “Can you stay out of a relationship for a year?”
“Sure” I say, “why not,” I think. Not really measuring the length of a year with my heart, knowing full well that I deeply desire a mutual partnership with a man but also knowing that the kind of relationship I desire this time around must truly meet the needs of my heart, there can be no settling and I am just getting re-acquainted with my untethered soul.
She slips in a waiting car and disappears.
I go back inside and sit for a long time in the darling children’s chapel in this vast cathedral. I look at the art, the tiny chairs lined up in rows, the candles lit in honor of others, sending prayer smoke and love up to the heavens. I know I will say yes, to her invitation. I know I am here to do something for the children. I don’t know what it is yet. But I know. I also know that my heart desires a great love and that love will add fire, fuel, delight to my life and my work. I fully understand that she has been sent to help me peel back the layers that will allow the answers to rise up.
I stand and light a candle for each of my children. For my son’s two closest friends who have left us too soon and a candle for their families. I light a candle for the people who are suffering. I light a candle for the guy too and say a silent prayer, because honestly he is still on my heart and because when we parted ways, I said I would.
I slowly wander out of the cathedral. I feel Grace. I feel Peace. I feel Blessed. I feel a little Giddy.
My phone buzzes with a text from Jen, a song for the ride home. Sending each other songs is a practice we will share over and over. Beautiful Things (click to listen)
Later that day, I receive this invitation in an email.
Today I invite you to share a year of devotion with me. Our journey will be heartfelt, lead by guidance and supported by masters of embodiment, discernment and intuition. During our time, you will learn how to access your feminine wisdom by listening for divine guidance and releasing the authentic truth of your heart for the well being of your soul and the good of the world.
As your teacher and guide, I devote myself to walking beside you, telling you the truth, listening deeply, following guidance. I believe in the most beautiful expression of you, body, mind and spirit. I promise to hold your feet to the fire of the most purifying truth as we discover it together, so that you can see yourself in ways that change everything forever. I will dream the deepest dreams with you and search for the missing pieces to your puzzles. I will insist that you claim your beauty, your truth and your power and invite you to step into the fullness of your call, as revealed by your own intuitive knowing. During times of confusion, I will hold you in unconditional positive regard and point you again and again to your heart and your own sacred truth. I will hold fast to the belief that you are perfect and whole, chosen and called for a divine purpose. I will trust without wavering that everything you need will be revealed to you
On this journey when the time is right. Again and again, I will redirect us both to Love as the way forward and the place where all beauty, power and truth is revealed. Our commitment to this year will be expressed in a system and rhythm of routines and rituals that will create a path of devotion that you can continue to follow your whole life long.
With all my love,
Thank you for welcoming me on The Path of Devotion. I appreciate your guidance deeply. As I read your letter and considered your questions I waited quietly for feelings, emotions, sensations to come through. I feel a sense of calm and peace. I feel a strength in my heart as well as a warm sensation that is different from my usual tiny heart squeeze response. It spreads across my heart. I wondered about old fears and at first I didn’t feel fearful at all. I began to feel anxious that perhaps I could not make such an investment. I heard my father’s voice, questioning my choices. I am fully trusting God with this feeling. I’ve always believed in abundance. I know that what we are doing together is going to eventually lead to supporting my family. I know that I will tell this story. What’s calling me, what new way of being, is a feminine way. A gentle way. A trusting, open and receptive way of being. A quiet way without force.
I am releasing my fear. I am releasing defense. Defense of my faith in abundance, defense of my chosen path, defense of my right to my full emotion.
You asked me to name what I am devoting to. My first thought was that I am investing in my soul. I am devoting to a year of exploring the depth of a woman’s heart so that I can share it as my service to the world. I am devoting to THE TRUTH OF MY HEART.
I am going to lay myself wide open so that others may heal. In a way, I am donating my heart to the world.
I am not afraid. I want to do it. I have a deep curiosity, an intense desire to know myself, my heart intimately, to understand the power of it, the real power of love.
I have something to prove about Spiritual Love. I feel called to be the proof.
My body tells me I am on the right track.
I stepped on the path of devotion with the guide that I prayed for. Something was holding me back from pure love and true purpose, I knew I had something beautiful and healing to offer by living fully from my heart. It got real and raw and wasn’t always beauty and sunshine but I learned how to use my body as my ultimate truth teller and guide. I made the mind, body, spirit connection and I learned how to hear my heart speak.
Can you hear your heart speak? Do you understand the language? We are on The Path of Devotion, Recovering Truth. Stick with us. It’s going to be a great story. I’m laying my heart wide open.
With all kinds of love and magic,
All images are either Jen Lemen or Shelly Modes unless otherwise credited.
Post #6 Recovering Truth
Saturday morning January, 2015:
I rise. I pray. I sit with my coffee and write what I am grateful for from the day before. I write what rises up from my heart. This is my morning ritual. I’ve been writing like this for 3 years now. Connecting with My Self, my own spirit before taking care of anyone or anything else. I shower. I dress. “What does one wear to a day like today I wonder?” I don’t have my cheer uniform anymore or the pink angora sweater with the cream colored cords that he loved to see me in? I wasn’t so good at outfits back then, but I felt good in that one. I felt pretty enough, less awkward, kind of good, attractive.
Before heading to Jen’s I take my son to be wired up for an EEG. He’s 22. He had a seizure a week ago. The doctor has ordered this test of his brain. The seizure frightened us in the most brutal way. The screaming to your daughters to call 911 kind of fright. Holding your child in your arms, saying his name over and over, asking him to stay with you, the back of his head bleeding in your hands, thinking this is it, he’s dying right now, kind of fright.
His brain and his life are on the line and I’ve been living on high alert. We’ve been battling his addiction to the prescription drug Xanax & marijuana. We have deep lines of addiction in our family. He’s genetically cursed on both sides and he’s suffered great traumatic losses in two short years. He’s been self medicating his grief stricken, broken heart and his silencing his mind. People he loves deeply have died. I am afraid that Xanax might win because right now I am the one battling it, he hasn’t joined the war yet. I am afraid for his brain and his life.
They wire him up at the EEG clinic, I drive him home, feed him, hug him, kiss him goodbye, and say “I love you the most.” I look deep into his eyes trying to see what’s going on in there. I think the seizure scared him too. I hope it scared him. I hope he really hears me, but more I hope he really feels me, the strength of my love and the seriousness of the situation and my fear. Its safe to leave him alone, he’s out of danger for now. He doesn’t need my hovering. He needs my love and a lot of rest.
I arrive at Jen’s and carry my overnight bag and my bag of teenage Shelly into the warm little room where my first altar still lays, where her sweet little dog Pip has curled up on the pillows, where candles glow. I’ve brought her an orchid. In the language of flowers orchids mean “beautiful lady”
I have bookmark on a page in Deepak Chopra’s book, Seven Spiritual Laws that says “to everyone bring something, either a flower, a gift or blessing.” That practice has become a part of me. With each meeting, friend or stranger, I offer something. A hug and silent prayer, a whisper of love, a gift, a treat, a flower. She places the orchid on her altar.
I slowly and meticulously unpack the artifacts that represent my 17-year old existence and light a candle to that girl full of love, spirit, wonder, insecurity, wildness, confusion, and misdirection.
“Let’s play a song,” she says. “What did you listen to then?” We queue up some of my favorites from the 80’s. Anthem’s I listened to over and over on my stereo or in my car.
Bruce Springsteen. Jackson Browne. The GoGo’s. Reo Speedwagon. Elton John (click on the artist to listen, sing and dance along)
We play a couple of songs. We laugh, we dance, I sing ALL the words to ALL the songs. Song Lyrics have been my voice for a long time. My feelings embedded in music. Where I felt understood. You could read my mind by my current playlists or the songs I play on repeat.
“I’m going to leave you alone a lot today, she says. To let things rise up. I want you to write.”
She hands me a wooden box.
“Inside the box are little cards with questions written on them. Prompts for your heart.”
“If you get stuck, I will tell you a story or we can play another song. Today you are Teen Shelly.”
Now it’s January 1982.
We play one more song (guess what it is? click to find out) and I start to imagine myself in my teenage bedroom with the rainbow bedspread and matching rainbow pillows. I remember how I felt. Excited, enthusiastic but very concerned with what made people “attractive,” how to be attractive, what people thought of me? I was friendly with all different groups of people. I didn’t feel like I truly belonged in any particular group. I didn’t feel either beautiful or noticeable. There was a boy I adored from afar but I felt like I wasn’t pretty enough for him. I felt betrayed by the people closest to me. Wounded by my cheer coach, my two closest friends, my boyfriend. My mom was sick, going through breast cancer treatment, and there was the other thing, the thing we didn’t speak of. I had crushes on boys, sometimes they bordered on obsessions. I was in search of something. Something that felt good, better than I felt. I didn’t have a name for what I was searching for. I’d felt it. I just didn’t know how to keep it.
Jen hands me a little plate with a slice of lemon, a hard candy that reminds me of the dish at my grandmothers, a sweet little mini pastry, a chocolate covered coffee bean and a decadent piece of chocolate. She leaves me with these questions to get me started…..
“What was sour? What was hard? What was sweet? Bittersweet? What did you treasure?”
I bite into the lemon first and the sour moments rise to the surface. Difficult moments with friends that I loved. The end of a 2 and 1/2 year love relationship. My mom’s condition. Cheer. Mean girls that didn’t really know me. Boys.
I put the hard candy in my mouth and think about things that were hard to endure. My mom’s breast cancer, the boy I loved that I thought would never love me, lies, betrayals, losses.
I take a generous bite of the tiny pastry and smile. What was sweet? My best girl friendships, K, N, S, J. My boyfriend BRJ. The summer with JL. The summer of BD. Babysitting for a family I still really love. Riding in the car with my sister, singing at the top of our lungs to Joan Jett or Bruce.
The bittersweet chocolate covered coffee bean reminds me of my job at the dance store that I really enjoyed and my betrayal of the woman that ran the store. She’d been incredibly kind and loving. I took advantage of her. It also reminds me of two boys that really loved me and treated me with kindness and sweetness and I didn’t respect them or accept their love. It reminds me of times I was a cruel hearted taker.
The last piece, the treasure, I chew slowly, really taste it. “Bonds” I think to myself. I treasure the deep bonds that I still have with three of those friends from high school. I treasure the connections with all the friends and acquaintances that remember my real heart. I treasure the bonding that happened with my sister on our weekly family ski trips. It was us, free to roam the mountain and be ourselves, together. And an enemyship with a girl that turned into a deep and abiding friendship now. I treasure that girl enemy turned woman friend.
I feel like I’ve cracked the code to open the vault of memories stored in my 17 year old heart. I look at the box of prompts and wonder what will happen when I really get inside there. I open the box and carefully choose the first card.
The first question activates the emotion of my heart intensely. What is the one sentence she most needed to hear? Tear burn my eyes instantly and begin to drip off my nose as I write with my head down:
“I love you, you are so beautiful.”
“Do I even want to go here?” I stop and wonder. This is stingy, like little needles in my heart.
But then I draw another card. Who hurt her? I make a short list of people I loved SO much that betrayed me, let me down, confused me.
Then, What is the one thing that fu**ing pissed her off? Cheer. My cheer coach. I am still pissed about it. Well not totally because I know more now about why people do the things they do but I did end up behind her in the drive through Starbucks line a couple of years ago and it took all my self control not to get out of the car and tap on her window and ask her WHY she did what she did and tell her what I’d felt for the last 25 years. My kids had to suffer the trigger and all it brought up for almost two days.
A positive question comes next. What made her happy, what made her laugh? Freedom. Driving my car with the music turned up. Singing. Dance class with J. My sister, my girlfriends. This one group of guys that were ALL funny and I loved hanging out them. They called me “Julie” of the Love Boat because I was always organizing our weekend activities or “Center of Attention.” I loved it.
Who disapproved of her? Whose anger did she avoid? Dad.
What wonderful thing did she deserve that would have made all the difference? Praise.
What one thing was she always worried about? That she wasn’t likeable.
What one thing could have helped her feel more solid, more accepted, more free? Positive affirmation from my family.
Who let her down? First I write boys. Then I write. “she did” meaning I let myself down.
What was she good at? Fun, words, love notes, songs, books, dance, kissing.
The questions get deeper and I keep forging on, peeling back, wondering, wandering, writing, crying, wiping my nose, drying my tears, smiling, digging, laughing and loving that sweet little, enthusiastic, sexy girl with big misunderstood heart.
The last question, When did she check out? stumps me. I don’t write anything. When did I close off a truly great, important part of me, and just kept going, trying to be the girl I thought I wanted to be and then IT hits me. I remember THE THING, the one DARK thing that’s HARD to say.
A realization rushes through me like a flash and seizes up my heart.
My son and I aren’t that different.
Only no one said anything to me, no one held my head. No one knew.
“How’s it going in here?” Jen says as she knocks on the door and brings me tea. It’s been hours. It feels like 10 minutes.
I wonder if IT is something I CAN say? Do the specifics matter?
Maybe, Maybe not but then I suddenly understand that what matters the most is THE SHAME and THAT is THE THING that has to be addressed for me to recover myself and equally important, for me to help my son.
She travels back to the early 80’s with me while I tell the extremely long story that answers all the questions in the box and brings up all kinds of emotion around sexiness, love, desire, betrayal, pain, conflict, relationships, family patterns, abandonment and the thing that holds my shame. She is amazingly still and listens deeply as she takes in all my teenage enthusiasm, pleasure, misery and disenchantment without interruption until I stop and raise my eyebrows sending her a silent question mark. A “what do you have to say about that ?” kind of look. I steel myself and expect what I’ve always gotten when opening up this way, revealing my past, revealing the depth of my desire.
Instead I get this;
“In every shadow there is a great light. ” She says, “In reclaiming yours you get to be a woman again. The kind with all the moves, all the feels. Who goes outside the lines sometimes, who does what she needs to. Who has her desire but also her compassion. That is the something that all 17 year olds give up, especially girls. “
“You are allowed to be loved, THE MOST.
“NO MATTER WHAT.”
Compassion. Love. Understanding. Acceptance and Guidance. That’s what I get.
I melt a tiny little bit more. My heart melts a tiny, little bit more. I feel a tiny pulse of a heartswell.
“Tonight we are going to do rituals,” she says. “Tonight we are going to wash away all of the messages that say desire is bad and that you are nothing if you feel all the way.”
“Tonight we are going to build a fire to honor who you would REALLY be if you had all your beauty and love and desire all the way. “
What is keeping you from being the goddess that you truly are deep down in your soul, worthy of receiving your desires. What barrier do you have to love, prosperity, spirituality, peace, compassion? What messages and shame need cleansing and a great fire built in your honor?
Where do you need to melt to receive all that you deserve and desire?
What is the one sentence you most needed to hear?
Wishing you Goddess Love, the extraordinary kind,
To receive the latest entries of Recovering Truth, in your mailbox, add your email at the right. We are just getting started on the year long journey on the path of devotion through my soul and ignition of my true spirit with Jen Lemen as my guide. And feel free to comment and share it with your friends. It’s magic in the making.
All Images by Jen Lemen or Shelly Modes unless noted otherwise.
Post #5 Recovering Truth:
I have homework.
“Go home and gather up items to make an altar to your 17-year old self.” she says. “Pictures, artifacts that speak to the girl that you were, tomorrow we will tend to her. Plan on spending the night.”
I drive the 45 minutes home wondering what in the world is happening here? As strange and unlikely and even a little silly as it all seems, it doesn’t deter me from climbing into my crawl space with my cell phone flash light, all the way to the very back to unearth 17 year old Shelly. I have to dig deep to pull out the artifacts, the photos, the bits and pieces of her history that I’d saved.
I haul everything up to my cozy spot in my kitchen and get lost in it for a while. My scrapbook with the embroidery I did in Home Ec with my boyfriend’s name stitched in a line of hearts. The charm with the girl and the boy kissing that my friend gave me for Christmas one year even though that boy whose name she had inscribed on the charm and I never dated but have felt a fondness for and connection with each other for 30 some years. A piece of gum he gave me out of his mouth stuck to a calligraphy writing of his name. Song lyrics to love songs by REO Speedwagon and Journey transcribed in my high school girly handwriting. The phone tree from cheerleading that my boyfriend wrote his name in hearts all over. The page with bits of tape where the Sadies Hawkins Dance marriage license was and the string ring that he removed when he was angry with me for having a “thing” for the boy on the charm. Letters from my girlfriends, cards from my 16th birthday. My cheerleading pom poms and a picture of me in my cheer uniform reminding me of a situation with cheer that still bewilders me. I loved being a cheerleader.
I find football programs, prom pictures, spirit buttons. Yearbooks. His letter jacket.
A drawing of me 30 years later that my friend Costa did that showed me as beaten down, cigarette smoking, beer drinking wife if I married the “caveman” that I was crushing on at the time. I am so intrigued by this drawing. I wonder what happened to Costa. I know where the crush is and he seems to be living a full and happy life with someone he always loved.
There are bits of Bruce Springsteen memorabilia. My graduation cap. Fuzzy Photos of graduation day with my friends in all manner of white dresses to wear under the white gowns. Photos of senior skip day at my house.
I choose the items that I want to bring along. To spark my memories, to reconnect with, to make peace with. Pack them up and head to my room to sleep. I am very tired by what’s been expressed today, but feeling hopeful.
I climb in bed, open my journal and write this message to God.
Thank you for today. For Jen. For opening me up to healing my heart. For sending me to her and her to me.
She told me to ask, to tell, to volunteer.
I am officially volunteering for the biggest role you have in mind for me. I don’t know exactly what it is or how to get your message out but I know that it is big and healing. I know I need an anchor. You know it too.
I know I am exactly where I am supposed to be today.
From here forward, I need clear instructions and guidance from you as to how I can serve the greatest good in a positive loving way.
Show me where and how you want me to truly shine your light beautifully. Make me a conduit of love, light, healing and passion. I am open and willing.
I close my journal, I close my eyes and sleep. Deep deep sleep.
Tomorrow I’m time traveling.
What were those 17 year old girl dreams? What held her back? What core beliefs are resting on her/his soul that just aren’t true and never were?
Write your letter to God/The Universe and ask, where would you have me go? What would you have me do? What would you have me say and to whom? Volunteer for the role God has in mind for you and stay open to the means that get you there. I promise, it will make a great story.
Wish much love and romantic dreams of the girl on the edge of 17,
Family Recovery Advocate
I serve women seeking healing and transformation.
I serve people who have been impacted by addiction recover their lives.